Marin Nicasio 2 Review
The Nicasio 2 shares the same Beyond Road geometry traits as Marin’s sub-£1,000 Nicasio +, which I recently tested and was hugely impressed by, but the frame is a higher-grade butted Series 2 steel, complete with mudguard mounts, rack mounts, a reinforced head tube and even provision for internal Di2 wiring, plus a minimal flat-mount for the disc brake.
Up front it boasts an all-carbon fork with mudguard mounts and a tapered steerer.
Marin’s Beyond Road geometry blends numbers you’d expect to find on a sporty endurance bike with (on my 58cm test bike) a 610.4mm stack height (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) and 398.4mm reach (the horizontal distance between the centre of the bottom bracket to the head-tube centre).
Cables route externally, but there’s provision for internal Di2 cables. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Though the slacker head-angle of 71.5 degrees gives a more stable feel up front than a road-specific machine, the 73-degree seat angle is pure road stuff. It adds up to a bike that feels stable and smooth on the road and capable off road.
Spec-wise the Nicasio 2 is more road than gravel when it comes to its drivetrain, mixing Shimano’s entry-level RS405 (Tiagra) hydraulics, road-based Shimano Tiagra mechs and an FSA Omega 50/34 chainset.
The 50/34, 11-34 pairing is classic road endurance and a great option for those looking to mix tarmac with excursions onto dirt. Schwalbe’s all-round variant of its gravel G-One tyre is a slender (for gravel) 35c. The dimple-patterned tread rolls fast on tarmac and grips well on hard-packed dirt. The tyres shape up well on the Marin own-brand rims with their bigger-volume, tyre-ready 19mm internal dimension.
The Shimano Tiagra ST-RS405 shifters are last-generation Tiagra and its mechs, particularly the BR RS405 hydraulic brakes, all work so well it poses a challenge to Shimano’s own, more expensive 11-speed options.
The shifters at this level feature oversized ‘bulbous’ hooded levers, which this larger-handed tester didn’t have an issue with but those with smaller hands have reported some issues.
The oversized hoods offer a large grip area – great for when you’re rattling through rocky trails. My only issue was with the combination of the FSA Omega rings and the KMC X10 chain: shifting down from the big ring to the small works well, offering just the right amount of speed and efficiency. But when shifting from small to big the chain labours a little.
The bulbous hoods of the RS405 shifters: suited to larger hands. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The Nicasio’s skinny-tubed steel frame rides beautifully well boasting the most shock-absorbing ride of the bikes that I had on test, despite having the skinniest tyres. The frame embodies steel qualities, yet at 11.7kg it isn’t overly heavy.
The Nicasio’s off-road performance is more suited to gravel roads, fire roads and towpaths than singletrack trails. I managed to pinch-flat the skinny Schwalbes when the tracks got a bit rowdier.
On the road the Nicasio 2 feels like a smooth endurance bike and the liveliness of the steel frame keeps it fast. Even on the climbs, the Marin’s great gear range means it’s no plodder.
The Nicasio’s fork has very generous clearances. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Marin has got the components pretty sorted too: the 12-degree flare on the compact drop bars gives you a good variety of hand holds and a commanding position in the drops. The flare does angle the shifters a little, which can be a bit of a stretch for those with smaller hands.
The Marin Beyond Road saddle is a fine design with plenty of padding and a central pressure-relief channel with a cutaway in the hull. It’s not an open channel, thankfully, so no water or mud spray.
The Nicasio is definitely road-ready but it’s no slouch when it comes to gravel. The frame can take up to a 40mm tyre in 700c or up to 47mm in 650b, so you could look to go further off road than the 35c tyres allow with a switch of rubber and wheels. As it stands, it’s the ideal commuter/road cum gravel bike.
The Nicasio 2 is a gravel bike that performs well on tarmac with the feel of a smooth endurance bike. Russell Burton / Immediate Media